In a move to redefine its tourism landscape traditionally known for beach-led tourism as well as to provide a cultural experience, the state government of Goa is gearing up to unveil its Homestay Policy, in a month’s time.
Sharing details with ETTravelWorld, Rohan Khaunte, Goa’s Minister of Tourism said that 100 houses exclusively located in rural regions like Bicholim have been earmarked for development under the Homestay Policy.
A key development is the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Airbnb earlier this year, which is expected to streamline processes and enhance the experience, as per Khaunte. This collaboration will focus on spotlighting hinterland and homestay tourism locations for travellers to explore.
To achieve this, Airbnb will conduct workshops and seminars to educate homestay hosts and B&B owners about responsible tourism practices, local regulations, and the importance of host registration, while also working to onboard more hosts and properties. Providing the global best practices, travel trends and insights to assist the Department of Tourism in making informed decisions on capacity building and progressive policies for responsible tourism will also be additional responsibility for Airbnb.
“Tourists opting for these homestays can anticipate an immersive experience, getting closer to local culture, traditions, festivals, cuisine, and more,” the minister stated.
Additionally, the introduction of homestays in rural regions including Bicholim and others will not only offer tourists an opportunity to experience the essence of Goan living but also create supplementary income sources for the local residents, Khaunte added.
The forthcoming Homestay Policy will be launched alongside a Caravan Policy, adding a new dimension to tourism beyond beaches. “This aims to promote a more flexible and itinerary-free recreational van experience, complete with dedicated caravan parks offering essential facilities and services,” the minister shared.
Khaunte emphasised the policy’s aim is to enhance overall tourist satisfaction, leading to increased tourism revenue and economic growth for the region, while breaking away from the limitations of seasonal tourism.
When asked about the benefits of these policies, Minister Khaunte emphasised that they align with the “Goa Roadmap,” a document recognised during the G20 Tourism Ministers meeting in India. The policies aim to drive a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive tourism sector, he said. In terms of benefits, they are expected to create a win-win scenario for tourists, local residents, and various stakeholders in the tourism industry.
Moreover, the government is also prepared to provide incentives, both fiscal and non-fiscal, to support these policies.
Besides these two, the Goa State Shack Policy 2023-2026, a comprehensive framework for the management and allocation of beach shacks, deck beds, and umbrellas along the state’s scenic coastlines for the next three years, has also recently gained approval from the state government. Beach shacks, constructed from eco-friendly materials, have long been a popular draw for tourists in Goa, and this policy is designed to bring more structure and oversight to their operation.
As per Khaunte, the implementation of the Beach Shack policy underscores the Goan government’s commitment to fostering tourism, engaging the younger generation, and boosting economic prosperity in our picturesque state. “This policy establishes a mutually beneficial arrangement for both our youthful entrepreneurs and tourists, not only empowering our young talent but also enhancing the overall tourist experience, further establishing Goa as a premier destination for those seeking sun, sand, and a taste of our unique culture.”
Looking ahead with a “quality over quantity” approach, Goa Tourism is eyeing new initiatives to increase both domestic and international footfalls to the state. The strategy includes the introduction of spiritual tourism circuits, encompassing not only temples but also yoga and wellness activities. Besides homestays, the focus is also on wellness, local cuisine, and festivities to enrich the overall tourist experience. Additionally, the ‘Temple Connect’ program will promote spiritual circuits, said Khaunte.
“The Tourism Department preparations are in full swing for the grand celebration of the 350th year of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja’s coronation, with plans unveiled for the upcoming Shiv Jayanti festival in six cities across Goa. The festival will be organised in locations including Panjim, Margao, Mapusa, Ponda, Vasco, and Bicholim,” he shared.
In response to post-Covid tourist preferences, Goa Tourism is focusing on tranquility, spirituality, and immersive experiences, said the minister, adding that this approach represents a shift from the ‘Goa Beyond Beaches‘ master plan.
“Our goal is to make tourism beneficial for every stakeholder at all levels of the tourism ecosystem. We are aligned with the Travel for LiFE program, developed under PM’s vision. Travellers will experience this philosophy at various touchpoints in Goa. Combined with the Goa Roadmap, it positions tourism as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development goals,” he assured.